Avalanches strand 1,000 tourists in Xinjiang
In a remote village in China’s Xinjiang region, around 1,000 tourists are stranded following a series of avalanches that have blocked access routes. The incident, which occurred in Hemu Village, a popular tourist destination near the borders of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Mongolia, was reported by state TV on Tuesday. The avalanches, triggered by continuous snowfall that has lasted for 10 days in the Altay Prefecture, have dumped snow reaching up to seven meters high in some areas.
This has made it challenging for the snow clearing equipment to function effectively. The snow, along with rocks, debris, and tree branches brought down by the avalanches, has complicated the rescue and snow removal work, rendering rotary snowplow vehicles ineffective. Rescuers have had to resort to using shovels and excavators. Efforts to clear the 50-km (31-mile) stretch of road that has been buried under snow started a week ago but are being hampered by the difficult conditions.
The rapid weather changes in the mountainous area have also limited the opportunities for operating supply missions. A military helicopter scheduled to deliver essential supplies to Hemu Village faced delays on Tuesday morning. The highway management authorities in Altay have deployed 53 personnel and 31 sets of machinery and equipment for the rescue and relief work. Zhao Jinsheng, head of the highway management bureau, told CCTV that the frequency and intensity of the avalanches are unprecedented, despite the region’s experience with heavy snowfall.